Richard Nixon: All Tucked In.
November of 2016 is a year and a half away and we’re already being flooded with news and commentary about the people who are either running for president or are considering it.
Politics is a very, very tough business and it’s a rare bird who can plunge deep into the inside world of big-time politics and still maintain some perspective and a sense of humor.
A professional political consultant, Dick Tuck worked for some big-time races in the 1950s and 60s. But he’s remembered today for the stunts he dreamed up for the express purpose of causing heartburn for Richard Nixon.
On one occasion, during his campaign for California governor, Nixon made an appearance before a crowd in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Tuck arranged for a group of Chinese children to cheer and hold up welcoming signs in Chinese characters. Ah, but the signs translated as “What About the Hughes Loan?”, a reference to an unsecured loan of $200,000 made to Nixon’s brother by Howard Hughes. Nixon was not amused. When one of his supporters whispered the actual translation in his ear, Nixon grabbed one of the signs and tore it to pieces … on camera.
The day after the famous Nixon-Kennedy TV debate, Tuck hired a sweet little old lady, pinned a huge Nixon button on her, and had her approach Nixon at a campaign event. In front of all the cameras, she give him a big hug, and said for all the world to hear: “Don’t worry, son. He beat you last night, but you’ll get him next time!”
Tuck became a candidate himself years later when he ran for the California State Senate. He lost badly, and on election night he stepped to the microphone at his campaign headquarters and delivered the shortest and most memorable concession speech in the history of American politics: “The people have spoken … the bastards!”
Dick Tuck is now retired and living in Tucson, Arizona. A year ago, at a party celebrating his 90th birthday, he confided to those attending that he’d like to come out of retirement and dream up some hoaxes to play on New Jersey governor Chris Christie. “He’s a big target,” said Tuck.